Guide Price: £70,000 - £85,000
The Vincent Black Shadow is widely revered as the all time epitome in motorcycle innovation. Second only in twentieth-century design prowess to the Supermarine Spitfire, it remains to this day a true icon. It’s innovative & record breaking design was to follow closely in the defiant footsteps of a truly remarkable spate of wartime aviation development so profoundly inspired as to outstrip, & finally overwhelm the German Luftwaffe.
Beget by two engineers at the Vincent works, Phil Irving and George Brown built two high spec. prototypes in secrecy from their managing director who had previously denied them consent for the project. Completed by February 16th 1948, their test reports were spectacular. Following road tests by Charles Markham published in ‘Motor Cycling’ magazine reported one bike reaching 122 mph, 11mph faster than the Vincent Rapide. A change of heart among Vincent’s management soon followed & the production Black Shadow was immediately readied for the following 1948 Earl’s Court Motor Show.
The new high performance bike was a 998cc four-stroke V-twin engine developed directly from Vincent’s existing ‘Rapide’ model, whilst the name ‘Black Shadow’ was derived from its contrasting black enamelled engine which maximised heat dissipation.
Officially tested in 1949 by the respected journal ‘Motor Cycle’, the bike was branded a connoisseur’s machine, with far greater speed and acceleration than any other road machine & with unique and ingenious features of outstanding design. For engine performance the bike was awarded 99 out of 100 marks: 99 “because nothing, it is said, is perfect”.
The History & Paperwork
This particular Black Shadow has a commanding and distinctive ambience. More importantly it is one of very few (of the 1774 produced) that has unequivocally conclusive authenticity.
The evidence of this derives from five unambiguous factory stampings; two original buff log books; the original dealership’s riveted brass plaque, and a host of documentation including a VOC certificate of authenticity, completion note, works order form and a road-test report which all originate from the archives of the esteemed Vincent Owners Club.
LRH 601 was supplied new by Jordan’s of Hull, a family-run garage that still exists as a Fiat and Alfa Romeo main dealer today. In 1950, it was one of the best-known motorcycle dealers in the north of England and it is Jordan’s that is the inaugural entry on the first of this Vincent Black Shadow’s two buff logbooks. Currently of course the bike also has a V5C in the name of the existing owner.
This example has clearly been owned by Vincent aficionados throughout its life and the owner states there is no paperwork to suggest it has had anything more than routine maintenance during that time.
Overall, the bike presents in excellent and demonstrably useable condition. The black paint on the petrol tank is in fine order and the mudguards are straight and clean. The exhausts are positively gleaming with only slight heat discolouration, whilst the wheel rims remain unblemished and true. Smaller parts, and the general condition indicate this bike has been spared the bad weather & well garaged by competent caring owners. There is the odd smear of grease here and there but no oil to be seen anywhere at all.
As confirmed by the works order form which can be seen in the gallery, this Black Shadow is standard specification apart from Hoffman bearing and o/s cam followers noted under non-standard engine components. Apart from this, we understand from the owner that the bike starts easily, charges correctly and runs superbly.
There are very few Black Shadows coming to market in such good condition and with such unequivocal authentication. For a Vincent enthusiast, little more explanation of this bike’s desirability will be required; it is an example any should have in their collection.
For newcomers to Vincent motorcycles, rest assured that this bike is not only the genuine article but an unparalleled opportunity to own & ride a true legend in motorcycling history, the spellbinding Black Shadow.
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